Woody Guthrie

Complete catalogs trump career overviews

Boxing Day

Woody Guthrie

Woody at 100 (Smithsonian Folkways)

Oklahoma's quiet prophet, the godfather of protest folk, would've turned 100 this year, so it's hard not to consider all the magnanimous, demigod glamour that Woody Guthrie might have enjoyed today if Huntington's disease hadn't sapped him dry back in 1967. Woody at 100 doesn't aim to be the definitive, exhaustive guide to Guthrie's singular legacy; it's far too egalitarian for such ambitions. Instead, the Smithsonian's latest rendezvous culls from a vast catalog that which is most essential. In three CDs, 57 songs, and a biographical book, the classics stack up: "This Land Is Your Land," "Pretty Boy Floyd," "I Ain't Got No Home (In This World Anymore)," and "Do Re Mi." Woody at 100 also shows off newly excavated fragments from a career that seems incapable of running out of secrets. Along with radio performances recaptured from the early Forties, there are songs dating back to the genesis of Guthrie's career. Off-handed, ragged, and perhaps never made for human consumption, the most notable discovery is "Goodnight Little Cathy," a barely-there lullaby for his daughter who died in a house fire a short time later. Ultimately, you can't tell the story of Woody Guthrie in a straight line. He has no grand artistic movements, no doomed collaborations, no botched revivals. He was first and foremost a social folklorist, always moving, always writing. If Woody at 100 succeeds, it's because it resists being the Answer.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Woody Guthrie
Twisting by the Pool
House of Earth
The Dust Bowl Troubadour would like to build an adobe house

Luke Winkie, June 21, 2013

33 Revolutions Per Page
33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, From Billie Holiday to Green Day
Time to get political, yo

Jim Caligiuri, June 15, 2012

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Kinky Friedman
Resurrection (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Jan. 3, 2020

More by Luke Winkie
ACL Music Fest 2015 Friday Record Reviews – Second Weekend
Dirty Sprite 2 (Record Review)

Oct. 9, 2015

Live Shots
X Games: Nicki Minaj

June 12, 2015


Woody Guthrie

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle